Supplement Support for Athletic Recovery

Feb 13, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Written By:
DaVinci Healthcare Expert


Which supplements should all athletes take to optimize recovery between workouts?

Athletes should include supplements that target joint, muscle, and mind recovery in their comprehensive fitness plans.* A diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods should form the basis of an active lifestyle, but specific dietary supplements can also make noticeable differences in muscle support, bone health, and mood management.*

Athletes expend more energy than the average person, so they have more demanding needs for some key nutrients. Supplements can fill these gaps efficiently, leading to better performance outcomes.*


Because they are taxing the body—and mind—with high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, and demanding workout schedules, athletes need rest days. These recovery days can happen anywhere from once every other day to once every two weeks, depending on the intensity of the workout routine and the physical goals their sport necessitates.

Many coaches and trainers utilize High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in-season and off-season, because studies show this type of exercise requires less time per session to improve both aerobic and anaerobic performance in young athletes. Most notably, HIIT routines led to increased running speed, compared to conventional training.[1]

With these intense workouts, recovery is a must. Many athletes engage in “active” rest days as part of the recovery plan. Instead of lounging on the couch watching movies, active rest days encourage restorative movement such as foam rolling, swimming, or stretch-based yoga, to enhance circulation and promote muscle repair.

The work doesn’t end when athletes walk out of the gym. These vigorous exercise sessions cause tiny microtears in muscle fibers, which results in muscle growth and increased strength. This is great, but the body needs the appropriate time and fuel to efficiently recover between workouts.

Research supports doing light to moderate cardio on rest days, rather than completely taking the day off physically. Particularly for those athletes engaging in HIIT, enjoying some light cardio on rest days can increase blood flow, helping to lessen muscle soreness and improve range of motion.

Download our joint support protocol for info on maintaining comfortable knees,  hips, and fingers.


In addition to giving the body adequate time to rest and recover, athletes must invest energy in selecting and preparing nutritious foods to support a healthy lifestyle. Unlike the average gym-goer, athletes require notable increases in calories and carbohydrates to compensate for their rigorous training routines.

A balanced post-workout meal consists of high-quality protein and carbohydrate-rich vegetables. Together, these nutrients work to support tissue and reduce muscle soreness.*

As for beverages, many popular sports drinks are packed full of refined sugar and artificial ingredients, which can potentially cause more harm than good. Consider more nourishing options alongside water, such as:

  • Coconut water. High in antioxidants and electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, research shows that coconut water can help neutralize the oxidative damage of intense workouts.*[2]
  • Tart cherry juice. Runners, specifically, experience less muscle soreness and muscle damage by drinking unsweetened tart cherry juice before and after a run.*[3]
  • Black or Green Tea. Post workout, these teas rich in polyphenol antioxidants are shown to enhance fat burning and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).*[4] 
  • Beer. In small amounts, high-quality beer reduces post-workout inflammation. Surprisingly, beer does not have negative effects on hydration, and is loaded with electrolytes.*[5] Non-alcoholic beers showed the same properties.


Even those athletes paying extra careful attention to a nutritious diet can come up short in certain vitamins and minerals. High-quality, targeted supplements can fill these gaps and optimize training and performance outcomes.*

The fitness industry is full of dietary supplements marketed as “ergogenic aids,” or substances intended to enhance the effects of a workout.* Athletes and other gym-goers all share some common objectives, which these ergogenic aids reportedly support:

  1. More efficient workouts*
  2. Achieving performance goals more quickly*
  3. Supports muscle strength*
  4. Encourages normal workout recovery*

Understandably, an in-season football player has different performance goals and training routines than an off-season soccer player. A professional athlete has a more rigorous routine than a high school intramural player. Supplementation, like the need for rest days, depends heavily on the athlete, the type and intensity of training, and their fitness and performance goals.*

Here are our top 10 recommendations for dietary supplements for athletes, from general daily cardiovascular and musculoskeletal support to targeted post-workout recovery aids:*

  1. Omega-3s. These healthy fatty acids help to modulate inflammatory responses and strengthen cell membranes, making them an excellent daily support for muscle soreness.*
  2. Maxi-BCAA. Consisting of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), electrolytes, and L-glutamine, this powdered drink mix promotes post-workout muscle recovery and energy production.*
  3. Glutamine. This amino acid supports the efficient metabolic processes needed during normal athletic recovery. Research indicates supplements like L-Glutamine Powder may also increase muscle strength and reduce muscle soreness.*[6]
  4. CoQ10. The body needs coenzyme Q10 to effectively integrate food nutrients and produce cellular energy.* With the synergistic addition of dimethylglycine and vitamin E in this supplement, CoQ10-DMG, athletes can support mental clarity and cardiovascular performance.*
  5. Curcumin. The main phenolic compound in turmeric, research shows curcumin can reduce oxidative stress and muscle soreness while boosting normal muscle recovery and psychological responses during training.*[7]
  6. Enz-Flame. A powerhouse blend of herbs including boswellic acid, ginger, enzymes, amino acids, and fatty acids, this supplement is designed to reduce joint discomfort and support optimal recovery.*
  7. Carnitine. Touted as an ergogenic supplement, L-carnitine facilitates the transportation of fatty acids into the mitochondrial matrix for transformation into cellular energy.*
  8. Vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical to bone structure and strength, and deficiencies can put athletes at higher risk of bone issues. Research also shows longer recovery times in military personnel with vitamin D deficiencies.*[8]
  9. Cal/Mag. High-quality calcium and magnesium formulations work synergistically to strengthen bones.* Research finds many female athletes are calcium deficient, and athletes on calorie-restricted diets tend to be magnesium deficient.[9]
  10. Beetroot. Powdered or juiced, beetroot is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Its antioxidant power and vasodilation properties help increase circulation of oxygen-rich blood to support enhanced aerobic performance and normal muscle recovery.*[10]


When it comes to exercise and supplementation, more is not always better. Moderation is the key to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. More than the average person, athletes must remain aware of the stress that rigorous training puts on the body and take steps to mitigate this damage.

Carefully planned workout routines, with appropriately active rest days, can lead to a high-performance athletic career. Coupled with nutrient-dense foods and targeted supplements, athletes can expect better exercise performance, less muscle soreness, and speedier muscle recovery.*

All healthy lifestyles also include mindful efforts to reduce and process stress, get plenty of restful sleep, and maintain fulfilling social and family relationships. Working out night and day, rejecting rest days, or continually skipping social outings to work out can actually be harmful to your health.

If you experience a strong compulsion to exercise, harmful negative self-talk, or the inability to be satisfied even once you’ve reached your target fitness goals, talk with a professional about healthy habits.



Athletes are under a lot of pressure to train harder and work out longer, but overexercising isn’t the answer. Work out smarter, not harder, by following our key recommendations for diet, exercise, and supplementation.

Make sure you have some active rest days scheduled into your routine to give your body ample time to integrate the hard work you’ve done to grow and strengthen those muscles. Active rest days with light cardio are encouraged as a way to enhance circulation and aid in healing microtears.

Eat foods rich in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids. A high-quality protein with a nice side of carbohydrate-rich veggies is the perfect post-workout meal. To fill the gaps, choose some targeted supplements that lessen muscle soreness, speed recovery times, and improve aerobic performance.* Depending on your training intensity, overall health, and performance goals, you can supplement according to your specific needs.*

Consult your functional medicine or integrative healthcare provider with questions about your nutritional and supplement needs. With an array of ergogenic aids on the market today, it’s important to stay informed on the trends, safety, and efficacy of your products.

Joint Health

[1] Engel FA, Ackermann A, Chtourou H, Sperlich B. High-Intensity Interval Training Performed by Young Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018 Jul 27;9:1012. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01012. PMID: 30100881; PMCID: PMC6072873.

[2] Gabriele Pizzino, Natasha Irrera, Mariapaola Cucinotta, Giovanni Pallio, Federica Mannino, Vincenzo Arcoraci, Francesco Squadrito, Domenica Altavilla, Alessandra Bitto, "Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health", Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2017, Article ID 8416763, 13 pages, 2017.

[3] Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01005.x. PMID: 19883392.

[4] Arent, S.M., Senso, M., Golem, D.L. et al. The effects of theaflavin-enriched black tea extract on muscle soreness, oxidative stress… and endocrine responses to acute anaerobic interval training: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 11 (2010).

[5] Jiménez-Pavón, D., Cervantes-Borunda, M.S., Díaz, L.E. et al. Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12, 26 (2015).


[7] Suhett LG, de Miranda Monteiro Santos R, Silveira BKS, Leal ACG, de Brito ADM, de Novaes JF, Lucia CMD. Effects of curcumin supplementation on sport and physical exercise: a systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021;61(6):946-958. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1749025. Epub 2020 Apr 13. PMID: 32282223.


[9] Clarkson PM, Haymes EM. Exercise and mineral status of athletes: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Jun;27(6):831-43. PMID: 7658944.

[10] Zamani H, de Joode MEJR, Hossein IJ, Henckens NFT, Guggeis MA, Berends JE, de Kok TMCM, van Breda SGJ. The benefits and risks of beetroot juice consumption: a systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021;61(5):788-804. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1746629. Epub 2020 Apr 15. PMID: 32292042.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.